Haydock Park stage today’s feature meeting and the highlight is the Group 3 John Of Gaunt Stakes and confidence in Dutch Connection (4.00) has ebbed somewhat when I saw the fact that the six-year-old has been drawn out on the wing in stall eight.
The selection ran a cracking race in the Gp 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on his reappearance when losing five lengths at the start yet travelled as well as anything to the furlong pole. The return to 7f will suit – all five career wins at this trip – and he would have been a confident selection had it not been for his coffin box draw in stall eight of eight. The selection was 4/1 at BetVictor earlier in the week but is 11/4 joint favourite at the time of writing.
I feel the danger is likely to be Charlie Appleby’s D’Bai who will appreciate stepping back up in trip having lost nothing in defeat when second to top-class sprinter The Tin Man at Windsor last month. D’Bai was 5/1 earlier in the week but is now into 4/1 with BetVictor and has a better draw than the selection.
In the opener the maiden Podemos (2.15) lost nothing in defeat when runner up behind a useful sort of John Gosden’s at Chepstow last time when stepped up to a mile-and-a-half for the first time. The winner – Almoghared – holds an entry in the Queen’s Vase and looks a useful sort. An opening mark of 83 looks workable for the Ralph Beckett-trained colt who is 7/2 second favourite with BetVictor.
In the Achilles Stakes I am going to give the old boy Muthmir (3.25) another chance dropping down in grade for William Haggas. The selection was a top-class sprinter on fast ground in his pomp and the 8-y-old suggested he was no back number when fifth in the Gp 2 Temple Strakes on good ground over today’s C&D last month.
Today’s faster ground will suit – as long as the clerk of the course does not get the watering can out – and Muthmir looks a fair price at 3/1 with BetVictor.
In the last I think No I’m Easy (5.45) will go close for Tom Dascombe dropping back to seven furlongs having run well when beaten two lengths over a mile here last month. The selection was forced to cover plenty of ground from his wide draw on that occasion and the handicapper has seen fit to drop him a couple of pounds.
A big run from Sky Eagle at Goodwood on Friday would be a boost to the chances of recent York winner Reverend Jacobs (1.55) in the opener at Musselburgh. The Newmarket raider looked one to follow when making all on the Knavesmire although the handicapper has raised him 8lbs for that narrow success.
The selection is 5/4 with BetVictor in this six-runner event and might get an uncontested lead given there do not appear to be any other horses in the field who like to race prominently. The hope is that Kevin Stott gets the fractions right from the front.
Great Fighter is back on the same mark as when winning the corresponding race 12 months ago, but I am hopeful that Four Kingdoms (4.20) appreciates today’s step up in trip to two miles. The selection has left Karl Burke since scoring over 12f here last month and he only fetched £12,500 at the horses-in-training sale. That said I thought he looked ahead of the handicapper when winning here last time and a 4lbs rise looks fair.
At Newmarket I expect to see Aim Of Artemis (4.15) get further as the season progresses but she is from a family I like and cost Godolphin 1,000,000 gns when bought at the sales in December. The filly makes her racecourse debut for John Gosden this afternoon and has been bought with one eye on the paddocks. She still holds an entry in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot later in the month, however, and I was most taken with her win at Leicester on good to soft ground over today’s 7f trip back in September.
At Lingfield this evening Scoones (5.50) was last off the bridle over the best part of a-mile-and-a-half last time and he looks sure to appreciate the drop back in trip for James Fanshawe. The recommendation has been raised 1lb for that run but that looks fair and he remains 2lbs better off on turf than he is on the all-weather.